Aviation

Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper “wage theft”

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Unions have taken Qantas to the High Court over its alleged misuse of JobKeeper, after the airline won an appeal against a ruling that it would have to back pay hundreds of workers.

In September last year, the Fair Work Commission sided with the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and the Australian Services Union, agreeing Qantas had been gaming the JobKeeper scheme.

The unions argued in court that the airline refused to pay workers for public holidays, weekends, overtime work and allowances by standing workers down for the rest of their pay period and manipulating the pay system so workers only receive the basic JobKeeper payment of $1,500 per fortnight.

Meanwhile, Qantas argued that payments made in arrears to workers for doing overtime should be counted against the JobKeeper payments.

However, in December, the Full Federal Court overturned the ruling, agreeing with Qantas that payments made to workers should be counted against JobKeeper payments.

On Wednesday, the Australian Services Union (ASU), the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and the Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (FAA) sought leave to appeal the landmark judgement.

“Qantas has been engaging in wage theft, refusing to pay workers fairly and battling them through the courts,” TWU assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh said.

“Senior Qantas management are back to paying themselves millions of dollars while Qantas workers aren’t even being paid properly for the work they are doing and are being denied the sick leave they are entitled to.

“The federal government and the Qantas board are refusing to hold them to account over this but workers are taking a stand.”

TWU assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus said the unions’ stance was about getting justice for Qantas workers.

“Workers should be paid for the work they do,” she said.

“Qantas is forcing workers to work public holidays, weekends and overtime and then effectively denying them overtime and other penalties they have earned.

“Workers are standing up to Qantas over this injustice and will take the case all the way to the High Court.”

However, Qantas said in a statement unions were wasting their members’ money and the airline’s money in the middle of a crisis by taking the case to the High Court.

“The court found we are administering JobKeeper as the government intended, and we have always made JobKeeper payments according to advice from the Australian Tax Office,” the airline said.

“There are tens of thousands of small and big businesses that, like Qantas, have been severely impacted by COVID-19, that have been making JobKeeper payments in the same way as we have.

“This legal action creates further uncertainty for these businesses at the worst possible time.”

In November, Qantas also won an appeal in the federal court against furloughed workers seeking to be paid sick leave.

The workers, including a man who has been battling cancer and another with heart disease both with over 30 years work at Qantas, alongside the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), took the case to court in April after the airline refused to pay them sick leave during the stand-down period.

The airline won the case in May, with the Federal Court ruling it would not have to pay sick leave to furloughed workers.


Featured image source: iStock/Grant Thomas

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

One response to “Unions take Qantas to High Court over JobKeeper “wage theft””

  1. … i swear to god… i don’t understand how that jobkeeper payment works… i’m a full time worker and what i know i’ve been stood down, ok that’s not clear either… but i wasn’t working at all but still getting paid my full wages weekly…. what i understand therefore is that my wage is partially subsidised by the jobkeeper payment… the report above is not very clear about the payments to workers so i could hardly say whether qantas pay cheats its workers or not… ok, if the taxation office and government agency say qantas is doing the right payment thing, like paying sdtood down workers nothing on top of the $1500 then was my employer wrong about my pay in full all these months…. i just hope not… also, this comment box, can you make it at least 3lines bigger so it is easier for me to review my comment before posting… this is a feedback not a complaint… thank you..

Leave a Reply

Destinations

“Vaccination alone is no guarantee that you can open up”: Health Minister issues bleak border warning

Greg Hunt says Australia’s international border could remain closed even once the entire country has been vaccinated against COVID-19. *Sigh*

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Signed, sealed, delivered: ACCC authorises Virgin’s cooperation plan with Alliance Airlines

by Huntley Mitchell

Did you recently happen to see ACCC tsar Rod Sims popping some mail in your local AusPost box? All is explained here.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Accor to bring second Mövenpick hotel Down Under

Travel Weekly’s editor is more of a Häagen-Dazs fan when it comes to ice cream, but he’s still licking his lips over this new hotel.

Share

CommentComments

Events

The travel industry’s favourite destination event is back!

by Sponsored by Tourism Authority of Thailand

Dust off your event frocks and shine your ‘outside shoes’ because the Aussie travel industry’s favourite destination event is back with a post-pandemic twist.

Share

CommentComments

Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Hilton’s Chad Miskiewicz

This week, the head chef at Samuels on Mill at Parmelia Hilton played us his favourite Foo Fighters songs while making his famous brisket. It was delicious.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Dolphins spotted in Venice’s Grand Canal

Don’t worry, we haven’t fallen prey to the same hoax that was circulating at the start of the pandemic. There were scientists involved this time, so we reckon this one checks out.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Australian Travel Agents Co-operative inks deal with Expedia

Do you happen to be a member of the ATAC? Well, you probably already know about this news, but here it is anyway.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Carnival posts $2.6 billion first-quarter loss

The cruise giant has laid bare its quarterly financials, and it appears head office will have to wait patiently for a new Nespresso machine.

Share

CommentComments

Road & Rail

The Ghan gets a makeover to celebrate Parrtjima festival

Journey Beyond has teamed up with a very talented Indigenous artist to give The Ghan a wicked cool new paint job.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

“Serious incident” on flight sees female passengers classified as children

The error, which was caused by a glitchy IT update, caused the plane to be more than 1,200 kilograms heavier than expected.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Wendy Wu Tours launches four new Aussie trips

Just like the gambling debt of Travel Weekly’s editor, Wendy Wu’s domestic product offering has grown.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

European MPs call for safer, more sustainable tourism post-pandemic

Here’s some political news all the way from Europe. However, that’s not to suggest we actually sent a journalist over there to cover it.

Share

CommentComments